The Spanish contribution to the training of Iraqi soldiers against ISIS

A CQC exercise by Spanish EZAPAC operators with Iraqi ISOF soldiers

As part of the NATO support operation against ISIS, Spain has been deploying special operations forces in Iraq.

Images of Spanish soldiers of the Naval Special Warfare Force (FGNE) in Georgia
Joint training of special operations units from Spain and Portugal

The deployment of these forces began in January 2015 and their objective is to contribute to the preparation of the Iraqi Armed Forces, and specifically the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, the ISOF, an important tool in the fight against terrorists.

The ISOF is divided into three brigades, each consisting of four battalions. The first brigade is based in Baghdad, the second brigade has its battalions deployed in Mosul, Karbala, Diyala and Al Base Asad, and the third brigade is based in Basra, with five detachments deployed in as many Iraqi provinces.

The ISOF, specifically its first brigade, played a very important role in the Battle of Mosul (2016–2017), under the command of its commander, General Fadhil Barwari (died in 2018). This battle led to the defeat and expulsion of the ISIS terrorists from that northern Iraqi city. The ISOF suffered a large number of casualties in those combats, as these special operators ended up taking on missions typical of the infantry.

This Tuesday, the General Staff of Defense (EMAD) of Spain has published a series of photos in which we see a close-quarters combat exercise (CQC) developed in a "kill house" (as it is known the enclosures specially designed for these exercises) in Iraq.

In these images we see operators from the Parachute Sapper Squadron (EZAPAC), the special operations unit of the Spanish Air Force (wearing uniforms with Multicam camouflage), along with Iraqi ISOF operators , with their now famous black combat uniforms.

The Spanish operators wear patches that identify them as members of the Spanish Special Operations Task Group Iraq, which is the official name of this deployment to which both EZAPAC and the Special Operations Command (MOE) of the Spanish Army and the Special Naval Warfare Force (FGNE) of the Spanish Navy.

These EZAPAC operators wear patches with a number 2 shaped like a scorpion's tail. I assume that these are members of the SOATU-ALI 2 team of the Special Forces Squadron.

Iraqi operators wear patches of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Force (ICTF), the name given to the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the ISOF.

As for weapons, in the photos published by EMAD we see the Spanish EZAPAC operators with Heckler & Koch G-36KV assault rifles, a version of the German G-36 with a shorter barrel (318 mm) and less weight (3 kg) than the one used as an ordinance rifle by the Spanish Armed Forces. Its caliber is the same as the normal G-36: 5.56 x 45 NATO.

In turn, Iraqi ISOF operators carry M4A1 assault rifles, also of 5.56 x 45 NATO caliber.

It is rare for the Spanish Armed Forces to disseminate images of this type. There is not much information that EMAD usually publishes about the activity of the Spanish special operations group in Iraq, largely due to the secretive nature of these units due to the type of missions they carry out.

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